Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hump Day History: St. Augustine’s City of God

Over the next few weeks we’ll hit the highlights of Book XXI. I wasn’t anticipating spending much time on this because it focuses on eternal condemnation – not the happiest subject. But it has some interesting points that are worth noting. This first one is a random thought that caught my attention. It’s near the end of a long argument on how eternal punishment, while it may not be totally understood, should be considered possible given all the mysteries in this world. That aside, there’s a concept of God’s role in the universe worth noting.

“So great an author as Varro would certainly not have called this a portent had it not seemed to be contrary to nature. For we say that all portents are contrary to nature; but they are not so. For how is that contrary to nature which happens by the will of God, since the will of so mighty a Creator is certainly the nature of each created thing? A portent, therefore, happens not contrary to nature, but contrary to what we know as nature” (p. 776).
I hadn’t intended that last sentence to be part of the quote initially, but it really is the central issue. I liked the idea of God being involved in the universe, but this seemed to neglect the apparent consistency of nature. His last sentence articulates our limited knowledge, the wonder of the created order, and God’s independence to operate in His creation however He sees fit.

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